Advanced Practice week: Offshore medic & health advisor

I have been an offshore medic/health advisor for 8 years now, prior to that I worked as a Staff Nurse for the NHS down in London.  My time with the NHS was spent working in Acute Medical Admissions, Intensive Care and also as a Substance Misuse Nurse in a prison. So you could say I have had a varied career.

Chopper 1

I chose to go down this unconventional nursing career path when I was a student following a conversation with my offshore worker father. My aim was always to get as much experience as possible in a wide range of settings in order to provide me with the skills and confidence to work in such a remote environment, where I would be the medically trained person on-board. I also had to complete a month’s additional medical training and capsized in a fake helicopter underwater, to allow me to go offshore.  These courses, however, are not a one-off and I do have to complete the medics training every 3 years and the helicopter training every 4.

After 7 years as a contractor working for various operators, I was lucky enough to get a staff position with a large Oil Production company and I am now working in the Northern North Sea, where I am closer to Norway than I am to the UK.

Rig

My main role is to respond to medical emergencies, to provide first-aid and appropriate medical care for all personnel on board for a wide range of healthcare conditions.  Therefore this means that I am on 24 hour call.  I do 12 hour shifts for 14 days, and I am also on call overnight for emergencies.

As well as being the medic on board, I also manage HAVS (Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome), Water (we make our own water), Noise, COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health), Asbestos, Manual Handling and DSE (Display Screen Equipment) focal points.  In addition, I am the First Aider trainer and Co-ordinator.  In my spare time offshore, I design and run health challenges.  So the role is extremely varied and can be quite demanding. In addition to this, I have also completed additional courses, which allow me to work as an Offshore HSE advisor, which I did for 2 years.

A lot of people ask me what life is like offshore; well it comes with a whole load of cons.  I have spent many birthdays offshore; I’ve missed weddings, Christmases and New Year’s, every special occasion you can think of really and I have accepted that as it’s part and parcel of working offshore, but I get to travel to work in a helicopter (which sounds pretty cool), I have met some amazing friends throughout my offshore career, I have received excellent training and I get to work somewhere that not everyone gets to see. I enjoy the variety of the job, as you never know what each day will bring.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Following discussions with some of the RGU lectures, after I completed my Bsc in Occupational health practice in 2016 and a lot of self-doubts, I took the plunge and applied for the Masters programme. I felt that the MSc in Advanced Nursing Practice would give me a much greater understanding of the conditions I was treating offshore, especially as I work so autonomously, as we can come across anything and everything! Offshore workers are an aging population and sadly old age does not come alone, so I felt that gaining additional skills would not only benefit me as a practitioner but also my patients.

Although at times working and studying can be stressful, I find that taking a break when studying when I feel nothing is going in helps. I will go for a walk, go out for lunch or go to the gym, if I’m feeling that things are getting a bit too much and then go back to it.  I feel I am able to utilise the time well and I believe I have a very good balance because I ensure that I am strict with myself, in respect to making sure I schedule in time for uni work, but also time to relax and have a life.

I am looking forward to the MSc and broadening my knowledge base and I am ready for the challenge.

Michelle

Are you interested in advanced practice? RGU offer MSc Advancing Nursing Practice allowing experienced nurses or midwives to develop their skills and knowledge required for advanced practice.

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